Tue | Feb 20, 2018

Walker to uphold Vere tradition

Published:Thursday | February 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Zeney Van Der Walt (left) of South Africa dips for the finish line ahead of Sanique Walker of Jamaica to win gold in the final of the girls' 400m hurdles at last year's IAAF Under-18 World Championships in Kenya.

Third last year in the 400 metres hurdles at Boys and Girls' Championships, Sanique Walker thinks she can win this time around. Walker is mindful of the Vere Technical High School tradition in the event and wants to live up to the expectations. Vere's coach, John Mair says she always does her best for the school.

"A lot of persons are expecting me to do well in the 400m hurdles because of Vere Technical's history, so I have to live up to the expectations," she said thoughtfully earlier this week at the school that numbers 1996 Olympic champion Deon Hemmings-McCatty among its graduates.

Gabrielle McDonald and Nicolee Foster, who were first and second last year, are now in college in the USA.

"Everyone is expecting me to win because those two girls are gone, so I think, yes, I can win the Championships," she quietly allowed.

Though she has run 57.20 and 57.27 seconds at Championships in the past, she knows it won't be easy. The gifted Shian Salmon of Hydel High School was fourth in both 2016 and 2017 and Walker acknowledged how good Salmon is.

"She is," Walker agreed, "so she's going to be one of my main competitors, but I'm just going to do my best."

 

Good preparation

 

Coach Mair, a 1987 World Championships 4x100m bronze medal winner, said Walker's preparation has been going well. "She developed a little injury behind her knee so we've been nursing that, but so far, it's coming on nicely," he reported.

Walker has won seven Boys' and Girls' Championship medals in individual events including gold in the 2016 Class Two 400m. In addition, she set a Carifta Games Under-18 400 hurdles record of 58.95 seconds last year in CuraÁao. Coach Mair knows why. "She's committed, dedicated and hard-working," he testified.

She is also versatile enough to have won Champs medals in the long jump and 800 metres.

Shy off the track, Walker already has eight CXC subjects and shows her determination when she runs for Vere.

"Oh yes, she loves her school," Mair said of the Junction, St Elizabeth native, "and she wants to do the best for her school."

He reckons that she will win at Champs. "I see a Sanique Walker coming out on top," he predicted. "She hates to lose, and she's had a problem where she slows up at the finish line, and we're working hard at fixing that," the coach resolved. That's how she lost last year's Class Two 400m final to Kimara Francis, then of St Jago High.